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Dan Harper | Stories for liberal religious kids

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Stories for liberal religious kids, drawn from a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions.

The stories below were originally written for a variety of purposes — worship services, classes, or just for fun. Adapt them to whatever situation you want to use them in. The links below go to a huge collection of stories on my sermon blog.

Copyright: Please respect copyright. For example, if you use one of my copyright-protected stories in a webcast or recording, I ask that you give me credit for the story (e.g., "This story comes from Dan Harper").

Cultural appropriateness: When I wrote these stories, I worked from the most culturally appropriate sources I could find, and I attempted to retain the distinctive flavor of the original religion/culture of each story. You will have to decide how you want to present other religious traditions where they conflict with Unitarian Universalist sensibilities, whether you will cover over religious differences or not. Some examples of what I mean: Will you ignore that Buddhists affirm that Buddha had 500+ previous lives? Will you adhere to Western understandings of gender, or acknowledge diverse understandings of gender? Will you acknowledge that most Christians believe Jesus is divine? Again, you will have to judge for yourself, based on the needs of your local congregation. Also note that some of these stories were written 25 or more years ago. You may want to revise older stories to match your current understandings of gender, race, cultural diversity, etc.

Daoist stories
Confucian stories
Other Chinese tales
Stories from the Hebrew Bible
Stories from the Talmud
Stories from the Christian scriptures
Stories from African peoples
Jataka Tales from the Buddhist tradition
Other Buddhist stories
Native American stories
Islamic stories
Unitarian Universalist stories
Sikh stories
Jain stories
Hindu stories
Stories from ancient Greece
Contemporary stories


Stories by other people

Links to stories I've used in UU religious education settings. Many of these were written by UU authors. I maintain this list for myself, and it's by no means comprehensive.


From Long Ago and Many Lands by Sophia Lyon Fahs, PDF of the classic UU collection of stories.

Jataka Tales and More Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbit (1912, 1922), folk tales from the Buddhist tradition giving accounts of Buddha's previous lives.

The Indian Story Book: Containing Tales from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and Other Early Sources by Richard Wilson (1914), lengthy stories from India.

UUA resources

Stories from the UUA's Tapestry of Faith curriculum series, 450 stories, some of which are excellent; but it's so frustrating to sort through the clunky alphabetical list. Index please!

CLF stories

The following stories were part of the old Between Sundays curriculum from Church of the Larger Fellowship (curated I believe by Betsy Hill Williams), and are all well worth looking at:

Stories from non-Western religions:
Mabouya, Chief of the Well, anonymous adaptation of a Haitian story
Krishna, Champion of the Oppressed, Hindu story adapted by Sophia Lyon Fahs
The Road to Olelpanti, Native American story adapted by Sophia Lyon Fahs and Alice Cobb
The Half-boy of Borneo, Borneo folk tale adapted by Sophia Lyon Fahs and Alice Cobb

Stories from the Hebrew Bible, retold by UUs:
Moses in the Bulrushes, from Timeless Themes
Moses and the Burning Bush, story from Timeless Themes
Let My People Go, story from Timeless Themes
A Free People, story from Special Times
The Ten Commandments, story from Timeless Themes
Jonah and the Large Fish, story from Timeless Themes
A Great Miracle, story about Hannukah from Special Times

Stories about Unitarian Universalism:
Four Unitarian Universalist “Saints”: stories about Samuel Joseph May, Elizabeth Blackwell, Whitney Young, and Amos Peck Seaman, from Special Times
The Boy Who Collected Beetles, story about Charles Darwin by Margaret Gooding
Stefania's Story, a true story about being a UU kid by Margaret Gooding
The Story of the Flaming Chalice, by Noreen Kimball

Other stories:
The Grumps, story from Treasure Hunting
Mark and Paul, by Pia S. Muran-de Assereto, UU in Italy
The Children's Crusade, story about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Kate Rohde

Stories about God
Stories from “Stories about God,” the classic feminist curriculum for gr. K-2 by Mary Ann Moore, hosted on the CLF Web site. Stories from this curriculum were reprinted in the book Hide and Seek with God, available on Google Books as a preview and from the UUA as a paperback or an ebook. The CLF Web site doesn't contain some of the more explicitly feminist stories, e.g., “God Is Like a Mother.”
Hide and Seek with God
The Mystery of God
God Is in Each One of Us
God Is Like a Father
Being with God in Prayer
The Spirit of God Is There When Someone Dies

UU and Me archives
In addtion to the stories above, look through CLF's UU and Me archives.